2023 NCAA Tournament: East Region preview, schedule, best bets, more

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Purdue is a favorite in the NCAA Tournament East Region
CORRECTS TO SUNDAY, MARCH 12, 2023, NOT SATURDAY, MARCH 11, 2023 – The Purdue Boilermakers celebrate the team’s 67-65 win over Penn State for the Big Ten tournament championship in an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, March 12, 2023, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

March Madness is here and the 2023 NCAA Tournament first-round action is just days away. We’ll walk you through every region, the biggest names, the best matchups, and our best bets. 

We’ll get started with the East Region. 


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East Region Schedule

First Four 

Texas Southern (14–20) vs. Fairleigh Dickinson (19–15)

  • Game Date: Wednesday, March 15, 2023
  • Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio
  • Channel: truTV

First Round

Date Time Teams Channel
Thu, March 16 7:10 p.m. ET No. 5 Duke (26–8) vs. No. 12 Oral Roberts (30–4) CBS
Thu, March 16 9:40 p.m. ET No. 4 Tennessee (23–10) vs. No. 13 Louisiana (26–7) CBS
Fri, March 17 12:15 p.m. ET No. 7 Michigan State (19–12) vs. No. 10 USC (22–10) CBS
Fri, March 17 2:45 p.m. ET No. 2 Marquette (28–6) vs. No. 15 Vermont (23–10) CBS
Fri, March 17 6:50 p.m. ET

Play-in Winner vs. No. 1 Purdue (29–5)

Fri, March 17 7:10 p.m. ET No. 6 Kentucky (21–11) vs. No. 11 Providence (21–11) CBS
Fri, March 17 9:20 p.m. ET No. 8 Memphis (26–8) vs. No. 9 Florida Atlantic (31–3) TNT
Fri, March 17 9:40 p.m. ET No. 3 Kansas State (23–9) vs. No. 14 Montana State (25–9) CBS
Duke is a dark horse in the NCAA Tournament East Region
Duke head coach Jon Scheyer holds up the trophy after Duke’s win over Virginia in an NCAA college basketball game for the championship of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Greensboro, N.C., Saturday, March 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

East Region Best Matchups

No. 5 Duke vs No. 12 Oral Roberts 

Oral Roberts is a picture-perfect Cinderella. The Golden Eagles are 56th in KenPom’s rankings and boast the 23rd-ranked offense. They also play at the 38th-fastest pace, which can be a problem for opponents. They have five players back from the team that beat Ohio State and Florida in the NCAA tournament two seasons ago. The Golden Eagles have what all Cinderellas do in superstar guard Max Abmas; plus, they have 7’5” big man in Connor Vanover to help down low. 

The only problem is that they’re running up against a deep Duke team that’s 21st in KenPom’s rankings, has the 24th-ranked defense, and won nine straight to close the season. However, this is head coach Jon Scheyer’s first NCAA tournament game as a head coach, and Duke plays at the 288th-ranked tempo. If Oral Roberts is able to dictate the pace of the game, this one could get interesting. 


No. 7 Michigan State vs No. 10 Southern Cal 

It’s Tom Izzo in March, so there’s always a chance the Spartans can make a run, but that doesn’t feel likely with this team. Michigan State is turnover prone and doesn’t create mistakes, which is usually not a recipe for success in March, especially since USC might have the best player in the game in Drew Peterson. He should be back at full strength after missing time with back issues, but the Trojans also have Boogie Ellis, who’s averaged 24.3 ppg with Peterson out and gives them a potent one-two punch. 


East Region Best Players

Zach Edey – Center, Purdue

A 7-foot-4, 305-pound center, Edey is the Big Ten Player of the Year and was second in the nation in rebounding. He could become the first player since David Robinson to collect 750 points, 450 rebounds, and 50 blocks in one season and he’s just the second player in Big Ten history to lead the league in scoring, rebounding, and field goal percentage. He’s going to be a handful for any team. 


Kyle Filipowski – Center, Duke

Another center to watch. Filipowski was named ACC Freshman of the Year, after averaging 15.4 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 1.2 steals a game. He led all freshmen in the nation in double-doubles and rebounds and would be a tremendous matchup for Edey. 


Oscar Tshiebwe – Forward, Kentucky

After a dominant 2021-22 season, it was a bit of a step back for Thsiebwe this year, but he still put up 16.5 points, 13.1 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game. He’s a force inside and you’re starting to get the picture that this could be a very physical and interior-dominant region. 

Zach Edey of Purdue may be the best player in the NCAA tournament East Region
Purdue’s Zach Edey wears the net around his neck as he arrives for a news conference after his team’s 67-65 win over Penn State to claim the Big Ten tournament championship in an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, March 12, 2023, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Erin Hooley)


East Region Pick to Advance


They are KenPom’s 7th-ranked team in the country and boast one of the nation’s best offenses. They play a slow and deliberate pace, which makes them vulnerable to teams that will speed them up, but their biggest threats, Duke and Kentucky, also play pretty slow and rely on dominant inside players, so I’m not sure they’re a stylistic mismatch for Purdue here. 

For more NCAA tournament coverage, visit amNY Sports